Fashion, Beauty and Style: Radoslaw Pujan’s Images

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by Radoslaw Pujan

by Radoslaw Pujan

It’s not easy to stand out in the genres of fashion, beauty and erotic photography, fields where the competition is tough and in which hundreds of artists thrive. Yet the Polish-born, Brussels-based photographer Radoslaw Pujan distinguishes himself in all of these highly competitive genres. Recently, his photography was awarded (by Playboy) the Fotoerotica contest. He was also  finalist in the prestigious Hasselblad Masters 2014.

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

Although reminiscent of the elegance and sensuality of Jeanloup Sieff, Pujan’s images are nonetheless very contemporary  in feel. His signature touch is a subtle theatricality and emotion, as apparent in the image above of the beautiful model, Iga Rakoczy. Many of his images, in fact, remind us of shoots from a drama that leaves the plot up to the viewer’s imagination.

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

Many of his sensual images play upon the notion of voyeurism, staging a play of glances between the watcher and the watched. But what is perhaps most impressive about Radoslaw Pujan’s photography is its versatility. His images cover the gama of life and human experience, from erotic, to fashion, to beauty, to historical, to nature scenes. The conventions of one genre spill over into another, enriching it.

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

photo by Radoslaw Pujan

Radoslaw Pujan’s erotic photos, for instance, are full of elegance, beauty and style, characteristic of fashion shoots. Analogously, his fashion images are very sensual and dramatic, as erotic photography tends to be. And his beauty shots find inspiration in nature photography. In Radoslaw Pujan’s artwork you will encounter a feast for the senses and a wealth of inspiration for the imagination.

image by Radoslaw Pujan

image by Radoslaw Pujan

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

http://www.amazon.com/Romanticism-Postromanticism-Claudia-Moscovici/dp/0739116754

The Sacred and The Profane: The Iconic Images of Majeed Beenteha

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Majeed Benteeha is an Iranian-born photographer, poet and aspiring film producer. Moving back and forth between Tehran and New York City, he simultaneously combines and clashes both worlds, in a spectacular mix that challenges cultural assumptions on both fronts. His images often feature veiled women posing nude in an iconic fashion that seems more sacred than profane.

Benteenha’s strikingly original photography violates religious orthodoxies–about feminine modesty, about the religious and social connotations of the veil–only to show us another way to respect women and all that they represent: love, maternity, sensuality, desire, intelligence.

His images are simple, beautiful, erotic and dramatic. They include symbols associated with the Muslim faith, but also seem very European in many respects. Perhaps unwittingly, Beenteha’s photography alludes to works like L’Erotisme, by the French anthropologist and philosopher Georges Bataille, which presents the sacred as inextricably related to the profane: not just for Muslim societies, but for all cultures in general. Bataille famously states:

“The essence of morality is a questioning about morality and the decisive move of human life is to use ceaselessly all light to look for the origin of the opposition between good and evil.”

It seems that is precisely what Beenteha’s artistic short film below underscores, in its mirroring and contrast between a universal modernity and Muslim tradition; between light and dark; between masculine and feminine; between tenderness and predation; between desire and contempt.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

http://www.amazon.com/Romanticism-Postromanticism-Claudia-Moscovici/dp/0739116754

 


					

An Intimate Specularity: The Artistic Photography of Frédéric Bourret

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French photographer Frédéric Bourret offers a peek into mysterious, and perhaps unknowable, sides of us. His black and white images are hidden glimpses into an intimacy which is subtle, and only hints at the sexual, reminiscent in their perspective of Degas’s voyeuristic representations of dancers. Bourret often depicts feminine figures in shadows, or looking out the window, or mirroring each other, in a spectacular specularity that makes them both viewer and viewed. Inside and outside meet in this act of self-consciousness, reflected (quite literally) in the image below:

The photographer also depicts young women looking out the window, glimpsing at the city life which remains a mystery to them, as it is for the viewers. And here the themes of his intimate series à découvert mirror the motifs of his urban scenes, in his photographs of Paris and New York, a city where the artist has spent five years. Bourret’s skyscrapers, streets and secret corners all retain a touch of mystery despite the crisp clarity and polish of the images. The play of light and shadows, their impeccable artistry, and a furtive peek at objects and subjects partially hidden from view, all give the artistic photography of Frédéric Bourret an aura of intimate specularity. You can see more of Frédéric’s à Découvert images  on the link http://www.fredericbourret.com/serie-a-decouvert.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

Philippe Pache’s Postromantic Reveries: The Shadows of Our Dreams

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Philippe Pache was born in 1961 in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was educated at the School of Applied Arts of Vevey. Since 1982 he has held solo and group exhibits in galleries and museums all over the world, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris and the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

For centuries soft shadows in painting expressed mood, emotion and intimacy at least as much as color can. Da Vinci used chiaroscuro to convey the ambiguity of human expression; Caravaggio to highlight the drama and tumult of life; Vermeer to hint at blooming youth and the inner world of thoughts and emotions; La Tour to suggest simple faith and pensiveness.

The Swiss photographer Philippe Pache (http://www.philippepache.com/) relies upon this time-tested technique in painting to bring life, drama and, above all, reverie and contemplation to artistic photography. His nudes exude beauty and tranquility. They are exquisitely posed yet look completely natural. The focus of his images is on how each gesture and expression—the body itself—reveals a rich inner world of thoughts and feelings. The interplay of light and shadow not only highlights the depth of human subjectivity, but also marks the fluid boundaries between humanity and nature. Some of his portraits, though always beautiful, are facial landscapes of light, contour and shadow.

They gleam with the insentience of the mountains, sea and land that sometimes surround them; they become one, interchangeable with their magnificent natural settings. The beauty of femininity captured by Pache goes beyond realistic visual representation. It is the landscape of haunting and delicate dreams. Sometimes, as in the photograph called Cecilia, below, there’s no clear distinction between dreamer and dream. The beautiful young woman, bathed in fiery reds, sleeps peacefully as she, herself, is depicted as a figment of our imaginations, as a dream. Recognizably beautiful yet also indistinct, she floats above the dark shadows and red sheets that envelop her like a vapor.

Dreams are often vague and fragmentary. When we wake up, we rarely remember the whole “picture”: just those frames that broke through the veil of sleep and rose to the surface of our consciousness. Since we often dream about our deepest fears or most poignant desires, the fragmentary, partial nature of our dreams is perhaps nature’s way to protect us from ourselves: from what we either pursue or try to escape most in life.  In Joined Hands, the photograph below, Pache once again captures both dreamer and dream. This image reveals an angelic young woman dressed in white, with her hands joined in quiet resignation or  fervid prayer: we’ll never know which, since in Pache’s postromantic reveries, the dreamer remains as partial and mysterious as her dreams.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

Barna Nemethi’s AllHollow: A New Dada Springs from the World of Marketing

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Newton’s third law of physics postulates that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. However, things don’t work out as neatly in the world of art. There are some rules that govern the world of art, but as they say, those are meant to be broken by new and innovative artists. One of the most creative and irreverent art movements was Dada, founded by a Romanian poet, Tristan Tzara. Like Surrealism, which later sprung from it, Dada was a broad cultural movement, involving the visual arts, poetry, literature, theater, graphic design and–inevitably–even politics.

Born in the wake of the devastation caused by WWI, Dada rejected “reason” and “logic,” which many of its artists associated with capitalist ideology and the war machine. Despite becoming internationally known for so many visible artists and poets, the Dada movement could not be pinned down.  Its aesthetic philosophy was anti-aesthetic; its artistic contribution was anti-art. As Hugo Ball stated, “For us, art is not an end in itself… but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”

For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction? Even in the anti-rationalist world of art? Maybe so. But what actions might we be speaking of, today? It’s hard to pick and choose among the many dangers facing the contemporary world: the ever-present threat of terrorism; the backlash of democratic superpowers sometimes even against the innocent and the helpless; the plutocratic mentality threatening to engulf the free world; the homogenizing reign of pop culture; the standardization and what Marx would call the “object fetishism” that has reached unimaginable proportions in the globalized capitalist market.

Looking at the world through critical eyes can reveal a very discouraging picture. But maybe we need such so-called “nihilist” reactions from artists to avoid the bland conformity that threatens to normalize even phenomena which should, by all rights, shock us. Few would know about these modern phenomena better than Barna Nemethi: a young Romanian artist who grew up in a new capitalist market, which developed rapidly under his eyes, largely due to the efforts of his generation. By chance (or good fortune), as the son of Iren and Grigore Arsene, Barna also grew up at the center of Romanian culture. His adoptive father is the President of the Romanian Association of Editors and, along with his wife, Iren, the head of Curtea Veche Publishing, one of Romania’s most prestigious and largest publishing houses. Barna followed in his parents’ footsteps by becoming the Managing Parter at Curtea Veche Publishing (http://www.curteaveche.ro/) and the Executive Manager of the Advertising Company Griffon and Swans  (http://www.griffon.ro/). He’s also a very talented film director and photographer.

But perhaps Barna Nemethi’s most ambitious, subversive and dynamic project is AllHollow (http://www.allhollow.com/), a new online magazine that combines photography, journalism, (anti)aesthetic philosophy, fashion, film and art. In the April issue, Laura Cosoi pays tribute to the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol by dressing like him and shooting video clips in which she imagines and recreates how he’d react to contemporary gadgets, such as the ipod.

The clips are quite stylish, but there’s a good measure of irony and humor in the tribute, as Laura emulates Warhol’s slow, meticulous style, in the vimeo clip below:

http://vimeo.com/21645424

The April issue of AllHollow also includes Wonderland (Concept by Oana Paunescu, produced by Alina Huza and filmed by Patru Paunescu, directed by Vlad Fenesan and photographed by Barna Nemethi).  The film and the photo shoot both mediate the boundaries between high fashion (modeled by Iulia Cirstea) and new Surrealism/Dada images and scenes.

The set itself has dream-like inconsistencies and juxtapositions. A spectacularly beautiful woman, dressed in a combination of nightgown/ballerina outfit and black fishnet stockings, lies on a metal bed above which hangs…a giant fish. She’s surrounded by three manechins, which seem evocative of feminine and masculine roles.

The “heroine”  moves with the mechanical, slow and sometimes sensual abandon of someone trapped in a dream, or perhaps unwittingly trespassing the boundaries between dream and reality. The images and the model are so hauntingly beautiful that they belong in a high-fashion shoot. Yet, at the same time, the incongruous setting and absurd array of props surrounding the model makes the entire scene evocative, open-ended in meaning and surreal. There is no dominant theme, no obvious plot: nothing to trap the model in any structure other than the aura of the fantastic itself.

I can’t write about AllHollow without also alluding to The Hunt, a series of photographs taken by Barna Nemethi in Manhattan, which features the models Zuzanna Buchwald and Will Vendramini. Like Wonderland, there’s a Surrealist mood and more than a touch of Dadaism in these images. The handsome man sometimes wears a funny animal mask, sometimes not. He’s simultaneously presented as a stalker/predator in search for his languid prey and as an attractive potential date for the beautiful woman.

The Hunt makes  light of–while also making viewers attuned to–the strange (yet normalized) mating/dating rituals  that men and women commonly engage in. But, simultaneously, like practically all of Barna Nemethi’s  series, this set of images could easily function as a high fashion photo spread that seamlessly combines impeccable stylishness and subversive creativity.

For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. This happens in the laws of physics and sometimes also in the more erratic world of art. In the case of Barna Nemethi’s innovative AllHollow project, however, the action and the reaction come from the same source. Barna Nemethi’s film and photography represent a new Dadaism full of artistic innovation and subversion at the heart of the marketing world that it simultaneously perpetuates and transforms.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

The Neo-Surrealism of Gustavo C. Posadas

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Surrealist art often combines the best of both worlds: a “realistic” representation of objects, which requires talent and technical skill, and a fantastic imagination that takes us past the threshold of the rational and the knowable, so we can explore the mysteries of the subconscious. Surrealism offers an escape from the real world yet also probes the depths of a perhaps truer and deeper reality: the reality of human desire; of our dreams and nightmares; of our hopes and fears; of our collective past and a visionary future we can barely imagine. Surrealism can also be playful: at least in the hands of an artist like Miró as well as in Magritte‘s linguistic imagination, whose paintings are filled with visual puns and paradoxes.

The contemporary Mexican artist  Gustavo C. Posadas continues the Surrealist tradition today. Calling himself a Neo-Surrealist, Posadas has been a visual artist since 1977. He’s also a curator for art exhibits and the Director of ACCORDarte Gallery and Grupo Centro 10. His paintings have a haunting beauty, revealing a fascination with the human figure in its most elemental representation. They often resemble women–without hair, clothes or makeup–beautiful in an atavistic manner. They seem the creatures of the past or figments of some future civilization, somehow bypassing the present. Posadas uses vivid colors, immediately capturing our attention, to draw us into the paintings which we can begin to decode only if we use our feelings and imaginations more so than our eyes.

Posadas’s paintings are also conceptual, as Surrealist art tends to be, provoking viewers to think about the concepts of time, individuality (his figures often overlap, in a provocative and strange symbiosis) and emotion itself. Some of his figures resemble masks, whose expressions are trapped in silent screams that mimic our emotions, exploring the limits and limitations of our powers of communication.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com

French Cosmopolitanism: The Postromantic Art of David Graux

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Born in Besançon, France, David Graux is a truly cosmopolitan artist. His art evokes Romantic motifs, but is edgy, innovative and postromantic in style. His paintings epitomize the best of both worlds: they are Eastern in inspiration, but have a European flair. Above all, David’s Graux’s art is evocative and poetic. Even the titles he selects– The shadow of the wind, Grazed sigh, The echo of a dream–suggest the last breath of Romanticism as it meets the impenetrable mystery of Symbolism.

DavidGraux_n

As in Symbolist poetry, Graux’s art combines the accessible with the unintelligible. The beautiful nudes are palpably accessible: sensual, classic, in private poses that excite the curiosity, stimulating dream, but not desire. Yet the Oriental symbols—invented by the artist and belonging only to the language of his own imagination–are ungraspable. They touch upon the playful and the abstract, never fading into mere background or ornamentation. On the contrary, they travel the surface of the paintings, functioning as background and foreground alike–as an enveloping atmosphere–to the ethereal nudes.

David-Graux-Sans-Importance-46959

David Graux’s art, like all forms of poetic expression, is inherently philosophical. It captures the essence of a significant aspect of human existence: the way in which what seems most transparent, accessible, real and temporal is simultaneously illegible, distant and unattainable. His spectacularly beautiful and innovative paintings cross geographical, stylistic and temporary boundaries, aspiring to a universal appeal.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com